13 March 2006

Monday's mp3: Sheila Chandra's Indipop

Sheila Chandra was a true "world music" pioneer. Tomorrow is Chandra's birthday, so this we're featuring her music and a little background today.

While Chandra provided many in the West with their first taste of Indian singing (and drum vocalizations) and several songs placed on the UK charts, her trad-pop style never caught on in India. Under the heading "Strong Areas" her blog says:

Currently USA and Australia. (Consistently high placing in the Billboard World Music Chart and the CMJ chart.) Formerly Japan and Scandinavia in the 80's. Not much interest in the UK now or formerly except with singles. None at all in India.

Admittedly, Chandra was an early adaptor of "world fusion," blending traditional Indian elements with pop as would later be done by countless other groups. Today, the pop elements sound dated, and the pop-English verses lack the complexity and lyric subtlety heard in great Indian singing, which which we are much more familiar now. (By way of comparison, check out Susheela Raman's delicious new Indi-pop-fusion Music for Crocodiles.)

By the time world fusion got big, Chandra had moved on to more solo and experimental vocal work, as on her album Roots and Wings. She's maintained a low profile of late; the only recent work I'm aware of is a contribution to the soundtrack of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Still, her early work is worth revisiting, and not just because it's historically good for you. It's fun, too. The cover shown here is from the 1996 re-release of her first full album Out On My Own, from which this song is taken.

[mp3] Sheila Chandra: "All You Want Is More"
from the album Out On My Own
originally released in 1984 by Indipop Records
re-released in 1996 by Caroline/Indipop
re-re-released in 2000 by Narada
Sheila Chandra's website
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